Contracts have been awarded to two companies in the US to manufacture doses of avian influenza vaccine ahead of a possible return of the disease this autumn.
But the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (Aphis) stressed the move had only been made to develop its stockpile and did not signal a decision to vaccinate for highly pathogenic avian influenza.
Such a decision would require careful consideration of the efficacy of the vaccine, any impacts of using it in the field and the potential trade impacts.
Poultry World reported in June – during the recent US bird flu epidemic – that the US government had decided not to vaccinate against HPAI, citing a lack of effectiveness and potential loss of export markets as the key reasons.
However, more recent reports suggest that it is now keen to have the option as part of its armoury.
The companies that have won the contract are Harrisvaccines and Ceva.
Joel Harris, vice-president of Iowa-based Harrisvaccines, said: “Although we cannot sell the vaccine today, we are in a better position to apply this robust and rapidly produced vaccine, if and when the virus re-emerges once again.”
Aphis says it will continue to request proposals from vaccine manufactures on a quarterly basis until September 2016, to allow additional products to be developed.